My best friend from elementary school through my sophomore year of high school was gay. We were best friends before either one of us even knew what it meant to be gay. Through him, I became friends with the majority of kids at my high school who were out.
Three of my gay friends ended up leaving my high school because they were constantly being picked on for their sexual orientation.
One friend eneded up dropping out right before spring break of our senior year because of the harassment he faced. I remember walking in a crowded hall one day with him after class, and hearing one of our ‘popular’ fellow classmates shout out a gay slur, followed by ‘are you ready to get your ass kicked?’ A few students laughed and encouraged the threats, but most remained silent.
I was one of those students who always remained silent. Even though I was present on several occasions when one of my gay friends was being picked on, I never had the courage to stand up for them. I was too concerned about protecting my own social standing than I was about doing the right thing. I worried I would become their next target if I spoke up.
I just turned 29 years old, and when I think high school, the one thing I regret the most is that I wasn’t a better friend to those who needed my friendship the most.
As an adult, I proudly stand up for gay equality.